(CNN) - A majority of Americans say Ukraine is important to U.S. national interests, but when it comes to the crisis in the eastern European country, only a small sliver of the public says Washington should consider military actions against Russia, according to a new national poll.
And the McClatchy/Marist survey also indicates that Americans are divided on how President Barack Obama's handled the situation in Ukraine.
The poll's Tuesday release come as tensions have soared in recent days in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists have seized government and police buildings in as many as 10 towns and cities. Russia declared its neighbor was on the brink of a civil war.
Last month, Russia annexed Crimea, which was an autonomous region of Ukraine with a large pro-Russian population. Moscow's move came after Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine.
In what has become the biggest East-West confrontation since the Cold War, the United States and European Union imposed visa bans and asset freezes on some of Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest political and business allies, and Russia responded with its own list of sanctions against a number of U.S. lawmakers and officials. Russia was also excluded from what was the G8 group of leading industrialized countries.
According to the poll, 55% of Americans say they consider Ukraine to be in U.S. national interests, with 39% saying the country is either not very important or not important at all to the U.S. There is little partisan divide on this question.
But only 7% say military options against Russia should be considered, with 46% saying the best way to deal with the crisis is through economic or political means, and 43% saying the U.S. should not get involved at all. A CNN/ORC International poll conducted in early March also indicated that only a small percentage of Americans wanted the United States to get involved militarily in the crisis.
"There is a good deal of ambivalence about Ukraine as far as U.S. public opinion is concerned," said Lee Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. "Americans think it's important to the national interest, and Russia may expand the conflict. But, there is little public consensus in the U.S. to take a tough stand."
Two-thirds of Americans say Russia will not stop with Crimea and will send troops into other parts of Ukraine. But the public's split on whether the crisis in Ukraine will lead to a new Cold War between Washington and Moscow. The survey suggests that Republicans are slightly more likely than Democrats to say that a new Cold War is looming.
As for the President, 45% say they approve of how Obama's handling the situation between Kiev and Moscow, with an equal 45% saying they disapprove of the job he's doing dealing with the crisis, and one in ten unsure. The President's numbers are improved from national polls conducted last month by Quinnipiac University and CBS News, which indicated a plurality disapproving of how he was handling the situation.
The McClatchy-Marist poll was conducted April 7-10, with 1,212, adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.
CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report